I read the recent New York Times article on Parisian food trucks with interest. And fine, plenty of jealousy (I would have KILLED for a taco truck in Lyon).
The author briefly mentions that street food in France has been around for a while, saying:
At outdoor markets like this one, there is often a truck selling snacks like pizza, crepes or spicy Moroccan merguez sausages, cooked on griddles and stuffed into baguettes.
I’ve been to all such kinds of “food trucks” in different cities in France. The best sandwich in Lyon is only available from midnight to 4 am on Place des Terreaux. All kinds of people stand on line, never waiting more than a few minutes for hot, spicy, deliciousness (if you find yourself there, get the Merguez with mayonnaise and extra harissa. Your hangover will thank you the next day).
My problem with these new food trucks is just how American they are. Tacos, bagels, burgers, cheesecake– all delicious, and it’s great to show the French that there’s more than McDo to American cuisine. But I do wish there were trucks devoted to making amazing French regional food. Each region of France has it’s own traditional and delicious food that usually doesn’t muster up when it’s served outside of the area. The salad niçoise you can get in Paris is usually a pretty sorry excuse for the real thing. How about a Lyonnais food truck serving saucisse au vin rouge (pork sausage cooked in red wine) or caviar de la Croix Rousse (a cold salad of firm green lentils in a mustardy vinaigrette)? Or a Loire Valley truck serving rillons (confit pork belly) and rillettes (a pate-like spread of pork or duck meat slowly cooked in its own fat)?
Great, now I’m hungry.
Food trucks are creative, inventive, and interesting. I hope that the next wave of trucks includes chefs taking advantage of the different kinds of cuisine they already have.